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    Notes and advice from Sean McColl.

Reserve Africaine

While Mathilde was in Vancouver for Christmas vacation, I took her to the Vancouver Aquarium. This sparked an idea in her head and she surprised me yesterday by taking me to the Reserve Africaine in Sigean, France. It’s pretty much like a big zoo, but it’s a bit different. The first part of the reserve is a drive only part. You’re pretty much like on a safari, you drive through their habitats and there’s no fences so the animals could come right up to your car. The first animal that we saw was a huge ostrich, I quickly rolled up my window as to not be pecked to death. [singlepic id=92 w=320 h=240 float=center] [singlepic id=93 w=320 h=240 float=center] After the first ostrich, we kept driving and saw a bunch of wildebeest on the left. This reminded me so much of “The Lion King”. I’m not really sure why, but it’s probably because of the scene of Simba running through the canyon being chased… [singlepic id=94 w=320 h=240 float=center] All the animals are contained in huge fields. There are cattle guards on the exits so that the animals can’t exactly escape. The giraffe’s were behind some water for some reason. I’m assuming it’s because they get scared or something? [singlepic id=95 w=320 h=240 float=center] After the first loop, we continued onto the bears and lions. For this part, they clearly state (in 8 languages no doubt) that you cannot roll down your windows OR stop when the animals are close. I guess the bears will climb all over your car because they’re curious. The bears were hard to find, but there was a momma and cup just chillin’ in a tree near the end of the loop. [singlepic id=96 w=320 h=240 float=center] The lions were similar to the bears, they were hard to find. They were near the middle of the loop, mostly just sleeping in the sun. I wish they would’ve walked around, or fought or something, but I guess it must be pretty boring watching cars go by all day… [singlepic id=97 w=320 h=240 float=center] After we left the lion’s loop, there’s a 3rd loop and it’s called the “Savana”. The first animals we saw were 3 white rhinos, they were also sleeping but they were cool! I think it’s the first time I’ve seen this animal! [singlepic id=98 w=320 h=240 float=center] As we continued the course, there were 30 zebras scattered along the road. They literally walked so close to the cars that you could reach out and touch them. Me being allergic to horses made me resist the temptation. That being said, I found out something very interesting about zebras. The only hair that grows on zebras is the “dark” part of the fur… weird eh? [singlepic id=99 w=320 h=240 float=center] The other part of the reserve is a self guided part. You get out of your car and walk around. The first animal we saw were little monkeys. I didn’t get a good picture, but on some of the female monkeys, you can see little baby monkeys strapped to their back. I guess they chill there until they’re old enough to fend for themselves or hunt or something? [singlepic id=100 w=320 h=240 float=center] Another animal I saw for the first time was a wallaby. Now I want to see a full grown Kangaroo! [singlepic id=101 w=320 h=240 float=center] While we were on a giant loop on foot, we saw this big cage full of what looked like ostrich’s, they weren’t but I forget the name. One was challenging me, so I tried to scare it, it didn’t budge… [singlepic id=102 w=320 h=240 float=center] I found that one of the most fascinating animals at this reserve were these huge turtles. They’re just so captivating, you watch them for 5 minutes, and they’re moved like 10 feet. I watched this one baby turtle for probably 30 minutes. He was eating an apple, then did a loop of about 15 feet, they tried the apple again, they switched to a tomato… I can only guess that that was the dad or mom or some parental figure beside him/her. [singlepic id=103 w=320 h=240 float=center] Although elephants are less interesting now that I’ve gotten to ride one in Thailand, it was still pretty cool seeing just how big they are. There was another one with enormous tusks, but it ran away before I could get a good picture of it. [singlepic id=104 w=320 h=240 float=center] Just as we were leaving the park, we drove past the bear loop again and they were all hanging out on the road… I’m not sure why, it was really hot already, but it was pretty funny just watching them mope around so close to the entrance of the loop. [singlepic id=105 w=320 h=240 float=center] That’s the end of my little trip. Now back to climbing I guess. Yesterday, I drove from Toulouse to Paris… 7 hours. Today, Mathilde is training while I’m resting because of the World Cup tomorrow. Tonight, we’re going to head to Eindhoven and tomorrow the competition starts…

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